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As the world ushers in New Year, internet shutdown nears 5 months in Kashmir

As the world ushers in New Year, internet shutdown nears 5 months in Kashmir

As the world ushers in New Year, internet shutdown nears 5 months in Kashmir
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By CNBC-TV18 Jan 1, 2020 3:21:20 PM IST (Published)

As people across the globe shared their New Year celebrations on social media platforms on Tuesday midnight, Kashmir remained cut off due to the internet shutdown in place in the region since India abrogated Article 370 from the erstwhile state and bifurcated it into two union territories—Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladkah—on August 5, 2019.

As people across the globe shared their New Year celebrations on social media platforms on Tuesday midnight, Kashmir remained cut off due to the internet shutdown in place in the region since India abrogated Article 370 from the erstwhile state and bifurcated it into two union territories—Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladkah—on August 5, 2019.

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Besides flooding the region with over 100,000 soldiers ahead of the legislative move, internet was cut off as the Union government sought to sever communication channels that could be used to mobilise protesters in the region.
Phone lines were also cut off and forced the Kashmir residents to wait in line for hours on end at police stations and a few households that still had landline connections to connect with their loved ones. The phone lines were ultimately restored in a phased manner in October, after 72 days.
On December 31, the Union government restored SMS service in the region, a full 149 days since the lockdown began.
According to an AP report, local government spokesman Rohit Kansal said that the decision to restore SMS facility was made after a review of the situation.
Kansal said broadband internet services in government-run hospitals will also be restored. But Kashmiris still remain without internet. The curbs on broadband internet and mobile internet services for other users will remain.
Authorities fear that insurgents and separatists demanding independence from Indian rule will use the internet to provoke protests in the region that could morph into large-scale street demonstrations.
The government had earlier said the restrictions on communication services were “in the interest of maintenance of public order.”
In the days following the communications blackout, the Indian government has jailed a number of local leaders and politicians—including three former chief ministers of the state—placing many of them under house arrest. Some of the politicians have been gradually released but a number of them still remain in detention.
Further, thousands of ordinary Kashmiris have also been jailed. Some are lodged in prisons in the region while many have been flown out of the newly-created union territory and detained in jails in other states, including in Agra, Uttar Pradesh.
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